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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > January
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 18, 2006

Transformational Diplomacy

I would define the objective of transformational diplomacy this way: To work with our many partners around the world to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people -- and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system…Transformational diplomacy is rooted in partnership, not paternalism -- in doing things with other people, not for them. We seek to use America’s diplomatic power to help foreign citizens to better their own lives, and to build their own nations, and to transform their own futures…Now, to advance transformational diplomacy all around the world, we in the State Department must rise to answer a new historic calling. We must begin to lay new diplomatic foundations to secure a future of freedom for all people. Like the great changes of the past, the new efforts we undertake today will not be completed tomorrow. Transforming the State Department is the work of a generation. But it is urgent work that cannot be deferred.
-- Secretary Rice, January 18, 2006

Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced her plans for global repositioning to restructure both our overseas and domestic staffing, and her vision for the future of the Department of State.

Global Repositioning At present, the allocation of American diplomatic resources still has vestiges of our Cold War posture. We have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people, as we do in India, a country of over one billion people. Diplomats are generally located in embassies in Europe, and centralized within capital cities.

To meet current diplomatic challenges, the Secretary will begin a major repositioning of U.S. diplomatic personnel across the world. In a multiyear process, hundreds of positions will be moved to critical emerging areas in Africa, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.

  • Immediate Action. Beginning this year, 100 current positions largely from Europe and Washington will be moved. To accomplish this goal, existing State Department resources will be readjusted to fit new priorities.
  • Long Term Commitment. In the coming years hundreds will move across borders and into the front lines of diplomacy where they are needed most.

Regional Focus Many of today’s challenges are not limited by country boundaries, but are transnational and regional in nature, and require new thinking and more targeted responses. There are nearly 200 cities worldwide with over one million people in which America has no formal diplomatic presence. Building on regional collaborations and regional forward-deployment of diplomats will facilitate a more effective approach to building democracy and prosperity, fighting terrorism, disease and human trafficking.

  • Regional Public Diplomacy Centers. Regional public diplomacy platforms are being established in Europe and the Middle East. These centers will take America’s story directly to the people and the regional television media in real time and in the appropriate language.
    Effective Forward Deployment. Diplomats are traveling to their area of responsibility more regularly than ever, using their expertise and experience more effectively abroad.
    Regional Centers. Information technology will allow work to be done anywhere in the world. Regional Centers of Excellence such as in Frankfurt, Ft. Lauderdale, and Charleston, South Carolina, will perform management support activities such as human resources or financial management.

Localization To reach beyond the borders of the traditional diplomatic structures and beyond foreign capitals, diplomats will move out from behind their desks into the field, from reporting on outcomes to shaping them. In addition, 21st century technology will be used to engage foreign publics more directly via the media and Internet, and to better connect diplomats in real time.

  • American Presence Posts (APPs) are currently located in Egypt, Indonesia and elsewhere. APPs are operated by one diplomat who lives and works outside of the embassy, representing America in other key regional population centers. 
  • Virtual Presence Posts (VPPs) are the newest and most cost effective way to expand the American posture locally in a country. Created and managed by one or more diplomats, VPPs provide an internet site enabling millions of local citizens, particularly young people across Europe, and Asia and Latin America, to interact with personnel in embassies.
  • IT Centralization. Communications capabilities and IT functions will be centralized to ensure that information is dispersed smoothly, accurately and securely. The goal is to provide the State Department workforce with quick access to the knowledge and real-time information they need whether at their desktops or on travel. Cutting-edge information technology will enable sharing information across regions and between agencies.
  • Creative Use of the Internet. Programs are being developed to enhance America’s presence through a medium that young people worldwide increasingly rely upon for their information. Café USA/Seoul and other programs being developed will reach young people through interactive, online discussions.

Meeting New Challenges with New Skills. To meet the challenges of transformational diplomacy, diplomats must be diverse, well-rounded, agile, and able to carry out multiple tasks. Transformational diplomacy requires that the right people have the right skills in the right place at the right time. Continued training and career development programs will better prepare diplomats and advance their expertise.

  • Enhanced Training. Building on the training curriculum at the Foreign Service Institute, the training center of gravity will be repositioned from a centralized domestic focus to overseas posts and to each desktop, utilizing technology to promote long distance learning. Localized training and immersion language training will further balance the classroom experience. Training will continued to be offered in Washington, but increasingly more of the coursework will be taken directly to diplomats overseas.
  • Multi-region Expertise. Diplomats will be required to be expert in at least two regions and fluent in two languages in order to be promoted to senior ranks. Currently, record numbers of diplomats are being trained in critical languages like Chinese, Urdu, Arabic and Farsi.
  • Post Assignments. Essential to diplomats’ career advancement will be service in one of the more challenging posts. These are dangerous but essential jobs often in states that are poorly governed and that are struggling to become secure, developed, and increasingly democratic.
  • Hands-On Practice. Diplomats will not only be analyzing policy and shaping outcomes, but also running programs. They will be helping foreign citizens to promote democracy building, fight corruption, start businesses, improve healthcare, and reform education.
  • Public Diplomacy. As always, public diplomacy is an important part of every diplomat’s job description. It is crucial to provide a common vision of hope and prosperity while engaging foreign publics and media to promote U.S. interests abroad.

Empower Diplomats to work jointly with other federal agencies. Success in transformational diplomacy requires collaborations that result in the more effective dispersion of people and programs to share information on common platforms. Vital to this vision is continued collaboration between civilians and the military. Diplomats must be able to work effectively at the critical intersections of diplomatic affairs, economic reconstruction, and military operations. Ways to enhance this effort include:

  • Expanding Stabilization Capabilities Created by the President in 2004, the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization responds to the nation’s need for a standing capability that could integrate planning with the military and civilian agencies, and deploy civilians quickly to a post-conflict environment to undertake a mission successfully. Secretary Rice is committed to expanding the capabilities of State’s Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization (CRS). CRS has now received broadened authority and mandate under a new National Security Presidential Directive. Recently enacted legislation allows a transfer of up to $100 million of Defense Department funds for post-conflict operations, funds available to empower CRS in a critical situation. CRS will work to develop a civilian reserve corps in which police officers, judges, electricians and engineers, bankers and economists will be available as needed in post conflict situations.
  • Political Advisors to the Military Forces serve as the diplomatic and policy advisors to military commanders, deploying with them and giving them the benefit of their diplomatic and regional experience. The presence of the political advisors will be expanded throughout all levels of the military to fully utilize diplomats’ regional expertise and political advice.


Released on January 18, 2006

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